Golfshot- Golf GPS and Golfplan -a belated review


Wakonda #2 from the tee


The distance from the tee to mid green with about 20 feet of elevation -an 8 iron

Several years ago, after I got my first iPhone, among the first and most useful programs was View Ti Golf, which I reviewed a while back. It was after several overly confusing updates and broken functionality, that I stopped using View Ti, and moved to Golfshot GPS.

While I had meant to review Golfshot GPS, I was too busy actually using it to put a good review together -I did comment on it a couple of years ago, but it is the addition of analytics and instruction from Paul Azinger via Golfplan that make this sing.



What they achieved is they’ve simplified the geekiest part of tracking statistics. The simplest method has always been keeping track of Fairways, GIR, Strokes from 150 yards, and Putts on a score card. Golfshot has made it even simpler by making the input of strokes, fairways, and putts, along with sand and penalty strokes mere flips of menu dials.


You can use the program solely for getting distances on all the golf courses in the US (and supposedly the planet). This will cost you 29.99. There is a lite version for free which offers scoring and the analytics. To tell you the truth, the GPS is nice, but I try to set up my shots with sight and local knowledge -its the statistics which make it worth using this program.

All the data is stored in the cloud and so you can use this app on multiple devices even on a GPS-less ipod touch or Wifi-iPad. The program works very well on Android as well (though readers of this blog know my feelings about Android).

The scorecard shows the parts of the game that I have to concentrate on -GIR -meaning my mid irons to pitching wedge, and sand -avoiding them and getting out of them.

The complementary half of this is Golfplan which is currently at a promotional price of 0.99. Mr. Azinger is a great communicator and passes along in 1 to 2 minute videos perfectly executable knowledge to the average golfer. I think the best results can be had for the advanced beginner to 10 handicapper and this appears to be the target audience.

The stats are analyzed and a customized lesson plan is created for drills and instructions. Given the cost of private golf lessons, this is beyond cheap at just under a buck.
The problem with golf instruction is that most golfers take a band aid approach to lessons -thinking one or two lessons to straighten out the ball is enough.


That’s like going to the doctor once to start treatment for a serious condition and then treating it yourself. Finding a good professional isn’t hard -every golf course has a PGA professional dedicated to improving play. It’s committing to a series of lessons over years that is tough -in terms of time and cash.
Gofshot GPS and Golfplan both get 4.5 stars on the App store which is basically a perfect score. I agree and outside of signing on with a golf instructor for a year’s worth of weekly lessons, this is the best thing since sliced cheese. I will update everyone on my progress.

Sent from my iPad

The new iPhone Netflix app end of TV

The iPad had the Netflix app first, and it was amazing, but expected on the iPad with its large gorgeous screen. The appearance of the Netlix app (and Hulu+ app) on my two year old iPhone 3G is worthy of comment. First, aside from iPhone, no other piece of portable technology has weathered aging as well. It is currently updated to iOS 4.0 which makes it slow, but the incredible thing about it now is I have access to thousands of movies and TV shows. It works best with a good Wifi connection, and makes cable or satellite TV irrelevant. The only time I watch broadcast TV is to watch live sports -and this usually on network TV over rabbit ears. I tried to cancel DirectTV a while back and they halved my bill after begging me to stay. Despite this, the writing is on the wall. TV is over. It’s dead. So are movies in theaters.

Michael’s Old Country Sabbath Challah from Chernowitz

My daily bread for this week is challah bread. Specifically, it is Chernowitzer Challah bread from my current favorite iPhone app, Epicurious. I have always felt the pull of Judaica since I was a child in the shtetl of Jacksonville, Florida. Now, I can partake of a little bit of manna.
This bread took about 6 hours to make -my kitchen is a bit cooler than that called for leavening dough. The bread out of the oven looked great but was “biscuit-y” according to my wife. The difference was that I used bread flour rather than plain enriched white flour -perhaps the enriched flour is more gluten-rich?
I will try when it has cooled -perhaps the structure will set in as it cools giving the inner texture that one associates with the best challahs. That may be it or the Chernowitzers just prefer cakey challah.

The iPhonist

As I have said, the iPhone brings out the creativity in individuals in ways that are unmatched by any other personal gadget. It has become the screen of choice. I have been playing with the iPhone app Brushes which let’s you create compelling artwork. David Hockney recently featured in the NYTimes now does much of his art on the iPhone. Several New Yorker covers have been created on iPhone by Jorge Columbo (link).

My latest piece was done in bed while watching the Yankees lose to the Angels. It’s my view to the right. More to come, but this device does not cease to amaze me and a tablet device will become de rigeur among creative people.

The Doodler

I have been blissing with the iPhone app Brushes. I like to draw and doodle but actual painting is a pain because I have to set aside time and get messy.

Painting puts me in a calm state that is similar to the zen golfist moments. Brushes solves a lot of the problems with computer art programs by being limited and unrealistic. Unless you buy expensive software and invest in a tablet, your stuck with the basic paint programs that haven’t evolved since MacPaint.

Brushes is powerful enough that works created on it have graced the cover of The New Yorker. Now I can work on my Self Love series in the convenience of an airplane lounge, the bed, and the commode with no messy paints to clean up.

Golfshot GPS-a new program to rival View Ti Golf? -mini-blog update

IMG_0252While playing in the recent HAC, my good friend JN showed me his new iPhone 3GS which was pretty cool. What was even cooler was his golf round management system. It is an iPhone app called Golfshot which in terms of design and features matches up and exceeds View Ti on many counts. He showed me how each shot can be stored for statistical analysis, how yardages to different spots on the fairway can be graphically demonstrated along with distances for the next shot.

I downloaded the app and was immediately disappointed to see that Wakonda hadn’t been loaded. I went to their website (link), and requested the course. This requires taking a picture of your scorecard and emailing it to them, or as I did, scanning it and emailing it. The process is described on the website as requiring a week to map a new course, but to my pleasant surprise, I got an email within 24 hours that my course was now available.

What’s great was that all the tees were available -except for black which are the tips. I’ve emailed the support team. As with View Ti, I will post this review as a mini-blog -and I have a free weekend coming up!

August 1, 2009

Playing at Wakonda, I found it to be of limited utility as I make it a practice to know my own course. For this reason, View Ti Golf is rarely turned on as well. Yesterday, I was invited to play with WW at DMGCC, and this was the moment I was waiting for to try Golfshot -playing on a new or rarely played course. I also tried out the scoring and stats function.

The GPS accuracy is not too bad -no different from View Ti Golf. The one convenience is the little GPS status icon which goes from red (seeking) to green (satellite captured). With it green, it takes anywhere from 5-10 seconds to settle on a read, and it is very close to the pacing off fixed markers on the course.


WW lines up his drive

On the tee -facing a blind shot over four bunkers, I really had no idea where or how far I needed to hit. The picture is to the right -the green was about twenty feet below on a dogleg right. It looked like I needed at least 200 to clear the bunkers, and a safe bailout to the left would probably leave me far away from the hole. Golfshot trumps View Ti in its graphics and interface particularly for planning approaches. I brought up the aerial view and moved the target bead to various trajectories over the bunker (below).


Carrying the drive over the second bunker 250 yards would set me up very nicely. I aimed over the rightmost bunker and set up my draw which had been behaving most of the front nine and I clocked the drive and ended up on the left fairway about a 100 yards from the pin, setting up sand wedge approach from a downhill lie which i placed 10 feet from the pin. Unfortunately, I two putted for a par. The greens at DMGCC are all tricked out because the property is build on cornfields and feature false fronts and anatomically correct curvatures, apertures, nooks, and crannies.

The scorecard function works very nicely -I didn’t notice you can also log your tee off club, but the stats don’t lie -my drives worked well when I was controlling a mild draw, but failed when I blocked out and faded -a disaster when you’re set up for a draw. Also, some of the greens gave me fits and 3 and 4 putts put the nail in my coffin.

scorecardI was very impressed that finalizing the score resulted in an email of the scorecard to my inbox. One notable difference from View Ti is the GIR is autocalculated -if you two putt for a par, it is assumed you hit the green in regulation. It takes about 3 to 4 clicks to put in your scores and stats which is a real step up from View Ti Golf with their really awful X’s and O’s which only a professional caddy would love.

Other features, which I will expound on in later entries, include the distance of last shot feature -works okay but not if your call is interrupted by a phone call or if you leave the program to check email -not the programs fault but the way the iPhone OS is set up -something that they have to address in their next tablet, and listing of yardages to hazards and important landmarks -very useful.

In comparison to View Ti Golf, this program is very well thought out and clearly not a flurry of hurried addons and upgrades which View Ti Golf has been suffering from. I think View Ti Golf was the early leader, but Golfshot GPS trumps them in interface, utility tee to green, and in statistics which weren’t too difficult to track.

That being said, I do have to say that View Ti N’s no nonsense yardage to hole only feature at rock bottom pricing offers a cheap, functional alternative to both View Ti Golf and Golfshot GPS.

The only shoutout I have to both software houses is why with all the fancy GPS do I have to select the course that I am on. When I am on the first tee of DMGCC’s North Course, the iPhone has that information, but I still have to wait and get the list of “nearby courses” and then select the correct course. Also, the scores should be dumping into the USGA handicapping database along with course, slope, and handicap.

I like Golfshot GPS a lot. I think View Ti folks will have to seriously hunker down and change the way they record their courses to bring on the features that Golfshot GPS pwns even as they revamp the interface -a lot of geek work which will take about 6 months to a year.

August 11, 2009

Golfshot GPS proved its worth on this blind shot. number6 approachIt’s on number 6 at Wakonda, a longish par 4 made longer by moguls. The drive which nice and long set me in the valley behind a hill beyond which is another valley that collects approaches that are short of an elevated two tiered green. When the pin is on the left, upper tier, you have a 10 foot strip to land on or end up on deep rough to the left or on the lower tier to the right -both pretty much means double bogey is a good score. This tree blocked any high approaches and I needed to cut a medium length iron starting to the left, having the wind lift the ball and land it softly on the upper tier, but which club? The nearest marker was far away, and this is where Golfshot shined. After locating the pin from top of the hill, I was able to get a distance to all the possible hazards. IMG_0343This let me choose an 8 iron which when I open the blade goes about 133. I reckoned the pin to be about level with the ball. I hid a hard fading shot that avoided the limb but the wind didn’t cooperate and the shot went long and slightly left of my intended target. Being in the rough to the right meant a very delicate chip. It took me five more strokes to finish out the hole with a triple bogey. The club selection was correct, but the left to right wind in the face was not there.

The real strength of Golfshot GPS is in the scoring and stats department. It runs beautifully and well on my second generation iPhone. At the end of the round, I emailed myself the card for later analysis.

scorecardThis round revealed the problem that I need to address going into this weekend’s HAC tournament. My driving is very much off -I hit only 35% of fairways, and this resulted in a lot of needless scrambling. As I was playing by myself, I took unnecessary risks and mostly they did not pay off -I will decrease the risk reward spread by keeping triple bogey off my scorecard this weekend. I made 5 triple bogeys and three double bogeys -if they were merely bogeys, I would have shot 83. My short game was streaky. I have been working on chipping and putting and it has paid off in the two birdies I had -it’s been a while since I had two birds in one round.

Golfshot lets me identify my problem -that is my driver has to not duck hook and I have to work harder on my mid-irons. My putting has to be less aggressive in spots where bogey is better than double, and double is better than triple.

I’m really beginning to like this program primarily for the scoring.

Addendum: 8/16/2009

I used the program at Waveland yesterday during the HAC. The scorecard from that is in my HAC 2009 entry. There was a hole where the program really showed its usefulness. I sighted a blind uphill 165 yardish approach with both the yardage and trajectory to the trees behind the green which I could see from where I was. I squared up a 5-iron, put my shoulders in line with the slope of the hill, lined up on the tree that Golfshot predicted, and swung away after a final exhale. The shot which I did not see land, was reported to have landed in the front of the fringe and rolled up to 8 feet from the cup. I put this putt in for birdie.

The stats function is by far the coolest feature of Golfshot which works well with the flow of a round of golf, much better than View Ti, and the layout and graphics of the emailed scorecard speaks for itself. GPS on iPhone and basically in the US is only so-so accurate and it takes about 10-15 seconds to get a lock.

Battery usage wasn’t terrible -this while I was skimming the PGA tournament. BTW, it was a great weekend for golfers of Korean extraction. I got down to red by the end of the round, but never worried it would blinker out.

Addendum 8/19/2009

Played around with the stats segment. IMG_0424It goes to a mobile Safari link that shows you your stats broken down by major category and over 5 or 20 occurrences. For example, my driving accuracy is pretty mediocre at 36%. I miss more the the left (draw) than the right (blocked out). There is also GIR, Putting average, Recovery Performance, Scores by Par, and Scoring. I am happy to report I am averaging 1.9 putts per hole which has been my goal since beginning of summer. Scores by par tells me that I play bogey on par 3’s and 5’s, but tend to play slightly over bogey on par 4’s.

This is all very nicely presented in a tidy fashion. Golfshot keeps your database available over the web and on the iPhone -nice.

The iPhone is the Master

img_0002Exclusive to iPhone, the Master’s app available only for iPhone is amazing. It features a live leaderboard and video feed from Amen Corner, 15 & 16, and video from the broadcast. The video over 3G, is superb, and it really highlights the iPhone’s versatility. img_0003This tournament is always beautiful to watch, and to be able to carry the whole tournament in your pocket is amazing. img_00021The picture to the left is live video!

The program is responsive, fast, and stable. I don’t know how Apple got the nod, but I suspect that quality has a lot to do with it.

I recently purchased the MLB app as well -I listened to the WCBS broadcast of the Yankees/Orioles game last night on the drive home. The 3G network shows its strengths and weaknesses. It streams fast, but its coverage is unreliable.

I get the feeling that tower to tower handoff is poor with my current iPhone. Just as phone calls drop while on the move, 3G coverage is dicy in a moving car.

On Wifi, the app is unbelievable. This is going to be a very unique Masters.

Review of iPhone Kindle App

img_0003It was with some dubiousness that I downloaded the Kindle application. I already have 8 pages of apps, and I really only use a handful at any given moment. The application runs without a hitch, but I didn’t have any books. 

I scooted over to Amazon, to my account, and I purchased the excellent book, Tales from Q School: Inside Golf’s Fifth Major by John Feinstein. I bought it with a gift certificate (another story), and then nothing. I shrugged, and went about my business.

Later, I fired up the application, and lo and behold, the book was img_0004on the list! Tapping on it, a very readable rendering of the book came up. 

The font is resizable, and the application takes it in stride. I have used other reader software, and this can be a complicated process. 

Turning the page is merely sweeping the page to the right. I read half the book with no eye fatigue. It is fantastically easy to read on the Kindle App. This is remarkable.

My prior experience with ebooks has been the awkward transfer of ebook files -the downloading and the purchasing is always a drag. The ebook stores that I have perused have a limited number of books that I actually want to read. This is substantially not the case with the Kindle app. img_00051

The NY Times bestseller list, the deep catalog of recent books on Amazon, this is the scale that Amazon brings. 

Whisper Sync is the killer app of the whole deal. I bought the ebook online, and it shows up basically instantly on my index of books. This is not only cool, but going to make Kindle the leader in all of this.

This leaves Sony out in the cold again. They just don’t get the modern economy and haven’t evolved past the cassette walkman in terms of business models. 

The drawbacks are due to the screen technology. The Kindle draws power when a page is turned. The e-ink maintains its image without drawing further current. Reading a book on iPhone results in a significant battery drain -about half the battery for half the book or two hours of reading which is on par with video watching or gameplay. 

And finally, the application does exactly what its suppose to which is convinces me to go and get a Kindle 2!